Crowne Plaza, Changi Airport
Crowne Plaza at Singapore’s Changi Airport, is an urban resort seamlessly plugged into global infrastructure. The hotel is designed to create a sensual “time-out` for the exhausted stopover traveller – a quick shot of the steamy tropics, a taste of Singapore, new Asia, 24 hours a day. The 320 room hotel was designed and built in only 17 months, with the architects designing the interiors as well as the building. The site was not promising; a leftover space comprising 3 carpark ventilation voids, 4 lanes of busy approach roads and a circular carpark ramp. Surrounding this was a backdrop of infrastructure, planes, trains, cars, aluminium, steel and tinted glass. Our solution was to float a delicate filigree floral cage that filters and softens the surroundings, inside is filled with tropical vegetation. The guest rooms float on a carpet of jungle, water, palms, suspended over the tangle of roads. Beneath the carpet the travellers are collected from the departure level, arrival hall and entrance road by sensuously flowing walls, and then gently guided towards service and hospitality spaces wrestled from the left over spaces between the roads. Eddies in this human current are created by places for meetings, connections and exchanges. The façade communicates the idea of the hotel as a sensuous node along the global travel network - modular yet organic, delicate yet complex; an illuminated network of hubs and destinations; glimpses of private tropical gardens seen through a web of abstract orchids. The hotel is Singapore Green Mark certified, and integrates sustainable approaches into the design diagram and language of form. The naturally ventilated and lit room corridors are not usual in a large multistory hotel, and were initially a challenge for the operator and client. They are highly appreciated by guests who have been on planes for long hours. The open-air corridors allow natural light into the room foyer and bathroom, highly unusual in a hotel of this type. Planting was integrated into the design, the corridors hung with curtains of creepers, the courtyards heavily landscaped. Water covered skylights in the courtyards bring shimmering light and a visual connection into interiors below. The architectural and interior expression is derived from South-East Asian textiles and flora. The façade is a 3-dimensional batik fabric that provides 60% shading to the facade. The corridors play off a warp of painted wall against a weft of perforated aluminium screens. The public areas are wrapped in bands of timber laminate, glazed Thai tiles, Indonesian Batik and Chinese metal mesh. The ballroom is an abstracted forest under a ceiling of raintree canopies in perforated metal. The guestroom bathrooms are wrapped in supergraphic frangipani blooms. Materials are intentionally rough, sensuous and intense, contrasting in colour, texture and solidity to counteract the blandness of commercial aviation environment. Interestingly, the hotel has become popular with Singaporeans, who are spending the weekend at the airport hotel, by the pool, instead of spending money on airfares. This unintended consequence results in carbon savings due to the reduction in air travel!

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